Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin used by the body for many important processes. Our bodies synthesise vitamin D naturally through adequate exposure to sunlight, or through dietary sources (oily-rich fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring, sun-exposed mushrooms, eggs, dairy products), however around 50% of the population has vitamin D insufficiency, which is where a quality supplement may be helpful.
You’ll definitely want to make sure you have enough vitamin D as it comes with plenty of incredible health perks. Here are 7 of our favourite benefits of the “sunshine vitamin”…
Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium and bone mineralisation, which is positively associated with bone mineral density. All cells that make up the skeleton contain both a Vitamin D receptor and the enzyme that’s needed to produce the active form of Vitamin D. The benefits of Vitamin D on reducing the incidence of fractures are due to a combination of increased intestinal calcium absorption, bone mineral density and a reduced risk of falls.
One of the main functions of vitamin D is to increase calcium absorption from the intestines for the development of the bone matrix. The active form of vitamin D is the major stimulator of active intestinal calcium absorption.
Optimal vitamin D levels are important to increase the efficiency of calcium absorption. Without enough vitamin D, the body absorbs no more than 10-15% of calcium from the diet. When there is enough vitamin D, the body absorbs 30-40% of dietary calcium.
There’s accumulating evidence that suggests that vitamin D may be important for fertility, pregnancy outcomes and lactation. Vitamin D supplementation at safe doses can help to improve the vitamin D and calcium status of the foetus and infant, which ultimately supports skeletal health. Vitamin D’s role in immunity is also very important among reproductive women.
Vitamin D receptors are present in the brain and play an important role in the function of the neuroendocrine system. Research shows that lower levels of vitamin D can negatively impact neural activity in the brain. Vitamin D has been linked with the production of serotonin (our feel good happy hormone) and low levels of serotonin are evident in those with depression. This suggests that vitamin D may improve mood and benefit depressive symptoms.
Current evidence suggests an increased risk of cardiovascular conditions and associated risk factors with lower vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D is also linked with high blood pressure.
Low concentrations of vitamin D have been associated with autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease. A study showed that vitamin D supplementation among individuals with hypothyroidism for 12 weeks improved TSH and calcium levels compared with placebo.
Vitamin D plays an important role in the modulation of the immune responses. Vitamin D deficiency is common in autoimmune conditions. Immune system cells are able to synthesise and respond to Vitamin D.